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Reader Recipe: Vanilla Bean Cupcakes

Vanilla beans can be quite expensive, but if you're going to use them, make sure it's on something you're going to love. This is the strategy that TeamSugar member holleighz went with when she created her vanilla bean cupcakes. Personally I love vanilla bean cupcakes. The flavor is simple but intense, and I know holleighz has inspired me to bake up a batch up cupcakes! To get yourself inspired,


Vanilla Bean Cupcakes
Submitted by TeamSugar member holleighz

on my last grocery trip i splurged a little and bought vanilla beans. i’ve been dying to experiment with them, but at just under $20 for two beans i was a bit hesitant. that’s a lot of money gone to waste for anything less than the spectacular.

i’m not going to say these cupcakes are spectacular, but they’re pretty damn good. it’s the closest i’ve come to a basic cupcake recipe with the perfect density and texture. as for flavor, it was good but mild. if they weren’t ten bucks a pop i’d have used both vanilla beans (i’m saving one for ice cream experimentation this week). maybe i’ll just up the vanilla extract next time and use the vanilla sugar i so smartly made with today’s leftovers (one used vanilla bean pod shaken and stored in a jar of sugar - thanks martha).

had i not started my experiments at 10:30 at night, i’d have sprung for the complex caramelized buttercream i saw on good eats. this frosting is probably a bit sweet for some tastes, but it takes only minutes, and i was quite pleased with the results -- tastes just like melted vanilla bean ice cream!

without further ado…

vanilla bean cupcakesvanilla bean cupcakes

32-36 cupcake papers
3 1/2 cups plus 2 Tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon all purpose flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/4 teaspoons coarse salt 1 1/4 teaspoons vanilla pudding mix
1 3/4 cups plus 3 Tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 cups canola or vegetable oil
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 teaspoons vinegar
1 1/4 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 cup warm water
Seeds from half a vanilla bean

Preheat oven to 350°F. Arrange paper cups in muffin tins. Sift flour, baking soda, salt and pudding mix into large bowl. Using an electric mixer on low, mix sugar, oil and buttermilk until blended. Add lightly beaten eggs, vinegar, vanilla and water and blend. Gradually add dry ingredients. Scrape the seed from the vanilla bean into batter and mix until just blended.

Spoon batter into tins, about 3/4 full. Bake cupcakes, 1 sheet at a time, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 18-23 minutes. Transfer cupcakes to racks and cool before frosting.

Vanilla Bean Frosting

8 Tablespoons (one stick) softened butter
1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
1 pound (3 3/4 cups) confectioners sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 pinches salt
Seeds from half a vanilla bean

In a small bowl, combine butter and whipping cream. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean into the butter. Beat until smooth. Beat in sugar 1/2 cup at a time, scraping down sides of bowl occasionally. Finally, beat in vanilla extract. If frosting is too soft to work with, refrigerate 10 minutes.

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